Monday, September 1, 2014

Here is How the Cytoskeleton Evolved

Not Easy to Explain

Though illustrations of the cell often depict it as a bag full of various organelles and folded membranes, this fundamental unit of life is actually organized upon a highly-structured three-dimensional truss structure known as the cytoskeleton. Until the early 1990s the cytoskeleton had been observed only in the more complex eukaryotic cells. But a series of detailed studies emerged indicating that the other two domains of life (bacteria and archaea) also have cytoskeletons. The wikipedia entry gives a good introduction to this subject:

The cytoskeleton is a network of fibers composed of proteins contained within a cell's cytoplasm. Although the name implies the cytoskeleton to be stable, it is a dynamic structure, parts of which are constantly destroyed, renewed or newly constructed.

In most cells of all domains of life (archaea, bacteria, eukaryotes) a cytoskeleton is found (notably in all eukaryotic cells which includes human, animal and plant cells). The cytoskeletal systems of different organisms are composed by similar proteins. However, structure, function and dynamic behaviour of the cytoskeleton can be very different, depending on organism and cell type. Similarly, within the same cell type the structure, dynamic behaviour, and function of the cytoskeleton can change through association with other proteins and the previous history of the network.

The cytoskeleton of eukaryotes (including human and all animals cells) has three major components: microfilaments composed of the protein actin and microtubules composed of the protein tubulin are present in all eukaryotic cells. By contrast intermediate filaments, which have more that 60 different building block proteins have so far only been found in animal cells (apart from one non-eukaryotic bacterial intermediate filament crescentin). The complexity of the eukaryotic cytoskeleton emerges from the interaction with hundreds of associated proteins like molecular motors, crosslinkers, capping proteins and nucleation promoting factors.

There is a multitude of functions the cytoskeleton can perform: It gives the cell shape and mechanical resistance to deformation; through association with extracellular connective tissue and other cells it stabilizes entire tissues; it can actively contract, thereby deforming the cell and the cell's environment and allowing cells to migrate; it is involved in many cell signaling pathways; it is involved in the uptake of extracellular material (endocytosis); it segregates chromosomes during cellular division; it is involved in cytokinesis - the division of a mother cell into two daughter cells; it provides a scaffold to organize the contents of the cell in space and for intracellular transport (for example, the movement of vesicles and organelles within the cell); it can be a template for the construction of a cell wall. Furthermore, it forms specialized structures such as flagella, cilia, lamellipodia and podosomes.

A large scale example of an action performed by the cytoskeleton is muscle contraction. During contraction of a muscle, within each muscle cell, myosin molecular motors collectively excert forces on parallel actin filaments. This action contracts the muscle cell, and through the synchronous process in many muscle cells, the entire muscle.

Evolutionary theory predicts there to be an evolutionary progression of cytoskeleton designs, as this key aspect of the cell design evolved. But this is not what the science reveals.

For example, in eukaryotes, the proteins actin and tubulin are the building blocks for the microfilament and microtubule structures, respectively. In bacteria and archaea these roles are performed by proteins such as MreB and FtsZ, respectively. But these cousin proteins do not reveals signs of an evolutionary progression. The actin and tubulin proteins show very few changes between different species. In fact they are among the most highly conserved proteins in the eukaryotes.

Even between species as different as yeast and rabbits there is only about a 12% difference in the respective actin proteins. Therefore there is no sign of how a gradual progression of protein evolution could have arrived at the actin and tubulin building block proteins. Importantly, this includes the MreB and FtsZ proteins. The sequence relationships between actin and MreB, and between tubulin and FtsZ, are essentially what we find between any two randomly selected proteins. With evolution we must believe that molecular evolution traversed an enormous gap without leaving a trace of sequence evidence.

This finding is not restricted to the molecular sequence data. The function and distribution of the bacterial components vary dramatically from what we find in the eukaryotes. As one review paper admitted,

it has become clear that there is no simple relationship between the cytoskeletons of prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Moreover, there is considerable diversity in both composition and function between cytoskeletons in different lines of prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

In fact the bacterial designs are highly divergent amongst themselves. Molecular sequences, proteins used, lateral interactions within the filament, polarity (left-handed versus right-handed filaments), and so forth, are all inconsistent across the bacteria. It is not a story of an evolutionary progression.

Another surprise for evolutionists is much of the eukaryotic cytoskeletal functionality must trace back to the first eukaryotic cell—the so-called LECA or Last Eukaryotic Common Ancestor. It is yet another case of complexity pushed farther and farther back in history, to the era of early evolution where the supposed evolution of such complexity is hidden in evolutionary gaps. Here is a particularly candid admission from our review paper:

One of the most surprising results of our increasing ability to probe the characteristics of the LECA has been how much of the biological complexity in extant cells can be traced back to this ancestral cell. The LECA possessed much of the complexity now seen in the replisome, the spliceosome, and the endocytic system, as well as the machineries necessary for meiosis and phagotrophy. Moreover, comparative analysis of the genome of the free-living excavate Naegleria gruberi identified ∼4,000 protein groups that probably were present in the LECA.

This “complexity early” model of eukaryotic evolution is mirrored in the cytoskeleton (Fig. 2 D). Somewhere in the evolutionary space between prokaryotes and the LECA, single proto-tubulin and proto-actin molecules diversified into multiple specialized forms. Three classes of motors arose independently, and evolved to include at least nine classes of dynein, eleven classes of kinesin, and three classes of myosin. As well as these, the axoneme formed, with 100–200 associated proteins, many of which have no prokaryotic orthologues. Between the prokaryotes and the LECA, a revolution occurred in cytoskeletal biology.

Such complexity cannot have appeared fully formed, but arose by stepwise elaborations of cell structure (and genetic repertoire). However, the large number of simpler intermediate forms that must have existed appear to have left no descendants. This is perhaps because a great many of these changes occurred in a relatively short time, with one innovation creating a favorable landscape for the evolution of the next. Alternatively, all descendants of these intermediate forms have been simply out-competed by the arrival of the LECA, with its mitochondrial endosymbiont, endomembrane system, and sophisticated cytoskeleton. What is clear is that since this complex LECA, the diversification into many eukaryotic lineages has often been accompanied not by the addition of further classes, but by loss of ancestral ones. Some of these losses are associated with loss of specific structures or functions (such as axonemal motility), but there appears to be a remarkable flexibility in the precise repertoire of many of these ancient families that is required for eukaryotic cell function.

From a scientific perspective, it would be difficult to imagine a more absurd narrative. Evolutionary explanations, such as this one, are the height of creative story-telling, contorting the theory to try and fit awkward facts.

h/t: La Victoria

114 comments:

  1. ..........they are among the most highly conserved proteins in the eukaryotes....

    Makes sense. Core of the system is protected from mutations.

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  2. "Evolutionary explanations, such as this one, are the height of creative story-telling..."

    I don't know, I think ID fares well in the story-telling department. Let's see, an unknown designer tinkered with life at some unknowable point in history, using unknowable methods. And it seems only through recent development of science that the work of this designer could be discovered. The identify of this designer appears to be difficult to pinpoint, and some even say that's not relevant anyway and not a question that should be asked. Either way the designer seems completely uninterested in revealing it/her/his self. However, a large number of proponents to this idea do seem to have a good idea of who this designer is, even though the book that this particular "designer" has purportedly authored seems to flatly contradict the story and in fact outlines an entirely different method. That seems like creative story telling to me!



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    1. JDRick:

      From the review paper:

      Three classes of motors arose independently, and evolved to include at least nine classes of dynein, eleven classes of kinesin, and three classes of myosin. As well as these, the axoneme formed, with 100–200 associated proteins, many of which have no prokaryotic orthologues. Between the prokaryotes and the LECA, a revolution occurred in cytoskeletal biology. ... the large number of simpler intermediate forms that must have existed appear to have left no descendants. ... but there appears to be a remarkable flexibility in the precise repertoire of many of these ancient families that is required for eukaryotic cell function.

      JD, do you *seriously* believe this?

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    2. What's to believe? It's a freaking hypothesis, supported by data in the references that you "forgot" to include in your excerpt.

      Three classes of motors arose independently, and evolved to include at least nine classes of dynein, eleven classes of kinesin, and three classes of myosin (Richards and Cavalier-Smith, 2005; Wickstead and Gull, 2007; Wickstead et al., 2010). As well as these, the axoneme formed, with 100–200 associated proteins (Avidor-Reiss et al., 2004; Pazour et al., 2005; Broadhead et al., 2006), many of which have no prokaryotic orthologues. Between the prokaryotes and the LECA, a revolution occurred in cytoskeletal biology.
      Such complexity cannot have appeared fully formed, but arose by stepwise elaborations of cell structure (and genetic repertoire). However, the large number of simpler intermediate forms that must have existed appear to have left no descendants. This is perhaps because a great many of these changes occurred in a relatively short time, with one innovation creating a favorable landscape for the evolution of the next (Cavalier-Smith, 2006). Alternatively, all descendants of these intermediate
      forms have been simply out-competed by the arrival of the LECA, with its mitochondrial endosymbiont, endomembrane system, and sophisticated cytoskeleton. What is clear is that since this complex LECA, the diversification into many eukaryotic lineages has often been accompanied not by the addition of further classes, but by loss of ancestral ones. Some of these losses are associated with loss of specific structures or functions (such as axonemal motility), but there appears to be a remarkable flexibility in the precise repertoire of many of these ancient families that is required for eukaryotic cell function.

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  3. JD, do you *seriously* believe this?

    Honestly, I don't know. I don't have a strong scientific background. I'm going to be interested in hearing what others here have to say. I suspect though there is another side to what you're saying and that CH's "scientific perspective" isn't without biases (of a religious nature).

    But that wasn't my point. Does CH ascribe to my story I laid out? And if not, what does he ascribe to? Or, as usual, does he just want to prevaricate?

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  4. Stop believing in evolution!

    http://theweek.com/article/index/265653/why-you-should-stop-believing-in-evolution

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    1. So it is even worse. You *know* that it is true, therefore "belief" is too weak a term to describe your certainty that:

      Three classes of motors arose independently, and evolved to include at least nine classes of dynein, eleven classes of kinesin, and three classes of myosin. As well as these, the axoneme formed, with 100–200 associated proteins, many of which have no prokaryotic orthologues. Between the prokaryotes and the LECA, a revolution occurred in cytoskeletal biology. ... the large number of simpler intermediate forms that must have existed appear to have left no descendants. ... but there appears to be a remarkable flexibility in the precise repertoire of many of these ancient families that is required for eukaryotic cell function.

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    2. There you go, reading minds again.

      Meanwhile, you have unaddressed issues here:

      Does CH ascribe to the story [JDRick] laid out? And if not, what does he ascribe to? Or, as usual, does he just want to prevaricate?

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    3. Pendant, the article you linked to is, well childish. I have a rather rich grasp of the model purported by naturalistic evolution. Based upon the evidence, however, I do not buy into the theory.

      The author of this article, therefore, dismisses me as an idiot. By extension you dismiss me as an idiot when you use the article to make your case. I dismiss those who dismiss me as an idiot.

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  5. I don't know anything to be true actually, I'm just curious to know what you think is true (rather than what you think is not true). I think actually my alternative "story" is a fairly accurate explanation of ID, no? Sure, it's tongue-in-cheek. But would welcome your critique and corrections as you see fit. You are after all a fellow of the Discovery Institute so you must have some thoughts on the matter. Although it does seem that you try and avoid talking about ID as much as possible, which is kind of odd giving your position at the DI?

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    1. jdrick,
      Although it does seem that you try and avoid talking about ID as much as possible, which is kind of odd giving your position at the DI?


      Dr Hunter would be happy to discuss it but first he needs to know where you are coming from to start.

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    2. JD:

      I think actually my alternative "story" is a fairly accurate explanation of ID, no? Sure, it's tongue-in-cheek. But would welcome your critique and corrections as you see fit.

      Well I think what you are missing is that ID merely claims that the best explanation for the evidence is design. That is a pretty mild claim. For instance, it allows for evolutionary processes. Evolution, on the other hand, claims that evolution is a fact beyond all reasonable doubt. That clearly is a false claim.

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  6. I'm trying to get an understanding of CH's scientific perspective that he alludes to in his post. Surely it's more than just pointing holes in evolutionary theory. CH and other IDers (assume CH is an IDer but I've no idea if that's right) like to point that evolution is simply based on "what God would or would not do". But how is ID any different or better, if it relies solely criticizing evolution and offers up very little in terms of its own hypotheses or ideas? I guess people like Behe at least do try and submit some evidence. CH seems to rely really on taking a stance of incredulity against evolution rather than of any positive evidence of his own.

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    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMPXu6GF18M

      here's Drew Berry showing the structure and function of some forms of dynein and kinesin proteins. The idea that they are designed comes from the fact that they look and behave like machinery and that the amount of ways they could be otherwise given the fact that they are coded for by DNA is about the same as what you would imagine for most parts of machinery.

      The believers in natural selection just imagines that there are small selectable steps between basically the random molecules we normally find bouncing around in nature, and what we can see today. They don't seem to understand the highly constrained nature of that claim.

      Honestly the idea of them evolving seperately is just your run of the mill, conventionally impossible idea. It would seem many orders of magnitude less likely for the cellular context in which they fit to arise first at all. But it's often easier for people to see the simpler contradictions first.

      But you are basically full of this type of machinery.

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    2. Analogical arguments such as this are deceptive. Comparing the processes and structures in a biological cell with human-designed machinery and inferring the existence of a designer depends on the extent to which the two cases are similar. Most design proponents only note the similarities but the proper way to evaluate such an argument is to weigh both the similarities and the differences. I have yet to see that done in any of these discussions.

      It is quite true that evolutionary biology is unable to describe every link in the chain of events that, it is proposed, led from simple precursor chemicals to complex modern proteins. What it does have is evidence for natural processes that have to exist for evolution to happen at all.

      All ID has by comparison is the analogical argument. The only intelligent designers for which we have hard evidence are ourselves and we're pretty sure we didn't design ourselves. There may well be more advanced extraterrestrial intelligences out there who could have done the job but, for the moment, that is pure speculation. Besides, aliens are not the designer most ID proponents have in mind when they talk about a designer.

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    3. Ian H Spedding: "Most design proponents only note the similarities but the proper way to evaluate such an argument is to weigh both the similarities and the differences."

      You are correct that both the similarities and differences must be considered. Are you honest enough to recognize that the neo-Darwinan crowd is slow to recognize the similarities?

      I, as a software developer, for instance cannot get most Darwinists to acknowledge that DNA is a coding language very like the computer languages that I develop software with (well, machine code specifically.)

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    4. JD:

      I'm trying to get an understanding of CH's scientific perspective that he alludes to in his post. Surely it's more than just pointing holes in evolutionary theory.

      Well if evolution is not an undeniable fact, then that is enormous, because that is the overwhelming consensus position, and evolution is the most influential theory of science, in the history of science.

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    5. bFast You are correct that both the similarities and differences must be considered. Are you honest enough to recognize that the neo-Darwinan crowd is slow to recognize the similarities?

      "Slow" is a relative term. We know Darwin himself read and was greatly impressed by Paley's work all those years ago. The only significant advance in ID since then has been the attempt by Dembski and others to cast it in a mathematical form - "the Logos theology of John's Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory".

      , as a software developer, for instance cannot get most Darwinists to acknowledge that DNA is a coding language very like the computer languages that I develop software with (well, machine code specifically.)

      This is still an analogy. Design proponents argue that the observed similarities between human-designed machine code and the genome justify inferring another similarity, that of an intelligent designer. I'm not denying it's a possibility but without corroboration from other sources it's a weak inference at best.

      For example, canals are designed by human engineers to move water and carry water-borne transport from place to place. They are, in many respects, similar to rivers which are frequently used for the same purposes. But does the existence of human-designed canals justify an inference that rivers also were designed by an intelligent agent?

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    6. Ian says: "It is quite true that evolutionary biology is unable to describe every link in the chain of events that, it is proposed, led from simple precursor chemicals to complex modern proteins. What it does have is evidence for natural processes that have to exist for evolution to happen at all."

      Evidence to natural processes that have to exist in order for evolution to happen.

      Sure natural processes exist, but so what! These natural processes would definitely be necessary, but their existence does not mean they are capable of producing life and the vast number of organisms we see. Existence is not evidence for evolution in this case.

      IDers fail to recognize the similarities that do exist and only point out the differences? Hmm. In science, which are more important? You might have 9 parts right and only one part wrong but that one wrong part is then extremely important. Isn't the point of science to try and falsify a theory? I hear that often, but in reality, that doesn't seem to be true.

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  7. Thanks for that post, Dr Hunter.

    It is a great illustration of why evolutionists just have to believe in their theory.

    Lacking the evidence to support their just so story, they just have to take it by faith!

    We have more in common than they realize!

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  8. I do not think it's a case of "believing" a theory but more a case of what is the current best fit for the observations we see. IDers like to claim that ID is the best fit. Perhaps it is, but there seems to be a tendency (and even lack of interest) to avoid answering the important questions such as who is the designer, when did the design occur and how.

    It's this disingenuous inability to tackle these important questions that result in many people concluding that ID really does not have a proper "scientific perspective" but is really faith-based philosophy (and mostly a Christian one at that). I think if the ID community starts to tackle these questions seriously then maybe the scientific community will take them more seriously. But given the completely absence of a response from CH on these matters, not sure that is coming any time soon.

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    1. JDRick, "I do not think it's a case of "believing" a theory but more a case of what is the current best fit for the observations we see."

      Oh may no, mon ami! The question is not which is the best fit, the question is, is the dominant theory a reasonable fit at all. The view that another theory is required to overthrow the going theory is scientifically ridiculous. Random events + natural selection do not, in my opinion, produce anything that vaguely represents the data. Before considering the ID claim, I begin, therefore by rejecting neo-Darwinism.

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    3. JD says: "I do not think it's a case of "believing" a theory but more a case of what is the current best fit for the observations we see. IDers like to claim that ID is the best fit. Perhaps is but...."


      And JD, you think that evolution is the best fit to explain what this single celled organism can do???

      You sir are a man of great faith!

      Let science progress. That's fine, but let's be honest. How did this thing learn to do this? We have absolutely no idea but, assuming there is a totally natural explanation for it, we hope to some day find out. No guarantees and we don't even know for sure if there is a totally natural explanation for this, but we believe there must be so we will look for one.

      That sounds more accurate to me.

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  9. I'm not a historian but it seems to me that science has progressed not by simply throwing out an idea, but by that idea being superseded by a better one. Or perhaps the idea was simply abandoned because it was asking the wrong questions - perhaps something like phrenology could be an example of that. But even then phrenology was abandoned because of advances in many other scientific areas (including dare I say it, evolution).

    So it begs the question why is ID not in a ready enough state to challenge evolution? Despite all the activity one sees on Uncommon Descent and a few books by people like Behe and Meyer, it doesn't seem that there is really a lot of true scientific activity around ID. Just go to Uncommon Descent - how many of the posts are about new discoveries in ID and how many about bashing atheists? What also doesn't help is that ID wants to control and direct the conversation - important questions like the ones I outlined above (who, when, how) seem forbidden. Rather than then there being an open and freeflowing discussion of ID ideas, it always seems that they are carefully steered. For example, CH on this site won't even acknowledge what he thinks or doesn't think about ID - he won't even answer the question.

    I'm not an ardent support of evolution (really doesn't matter to me one way or the other at all), but as much as I want to be open to the idea of ID, the way ID is presented and marketed makes me deeply cautious.

    Actually I think ID supporters would fare much better if they just came out what we know a lot of them really think - that they are born-again Christians and reject evolution because it does not jive with their faith and therefore believe that it just cannot be correct. I actually would respect that a lot more than the pretense that ID does not have these faith-based influences. Don't get me wrong, there may and could some valid scientific insights from ID, but let's acknowledge the elephant in the room and admit the real root from where ID comes. It comes across as disingenuous and suspicious.

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    1. JDRick: I'm not a historian but it seems to me that science has progressed not by simply throwing out an idea, but by that idea being superseded by a better one.

      There have been a lot of events in scientific history where an experiment has proven the current theory to be in error. The response of science tends to be to hold onto the old theory even if the data shows otherwise. However, those who respect the data go into a state of existential angst. They have no theory to explain the data. This is a fine state for science to be in. This is the state that science should be in regarding the current biological evidence.

      Consider, for instance Dr. Shapiro. He and his cannot get themselves to admin to the ID explanation on philosophical grounds. On the other hand, he and his recognize that the data doesn't fit the theory. They play around with far out theories to get around this problem. Yet at least they are honest enough to recognize a theory that doesn't fit the data.

      Id is held as "out" on philosophical grounds. You hold ID as "out" on philosophical grounds. So be it. The data still does not fit the neo-Darwinian theory, plain and simple. If you aren't man enough to get to "I don't know" then feel free to hold onto a theory that doesn't fit the data. Its your loss.

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    3. As I said I don't have any strong feelings about evolution (yes, I'm an atheist but for reasons that have nothing to do with evolution). So sure I'm happy to say "I don't know". And besides why do you automatically assume I'm a person with "manhood"?

      I really don't understand the sentence "Id Is held as 'out' on philosophical grounds", it doesn't make sense to me. Not sure why you are trying to say.

      But if you are trying to say that Id does have philosophical and Christian underpinnings why does the ID community work so hard to pretend it doesn't and prevaricate so much? On Uncommon Descent we read daily the inadequacies of materialism, yet ID seems to be wanted to be treated like a materialist discipline.

      If IDers believe that ID really can only be understood properly when it is accepted that there is a spiritual non-materialist component, why not just be open about this. CH has on occasions come out and said something along these lines, but only when really pushed. If Christian IDers believe God is the designer, it almost feels they are embarrassed and ashamed to admit it. Didn't Jesus have to say something along these lines about people who deny him?

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    4. "If Christian IDers believe God is the designer, it almost feels they are embarrassed and ashamed to admit it."

      I see this equation in your writing: belief in God produces ID. I do not see this equation. I see the opposite equation only -- commitment in opposition to God = rejection of ID.

      Let me show you why. Catholic theology is very neo-Darwin comfortable. The Catholic position generally is that God set up natural laws, nature follows those laws, and produced life. This is the theistic evolutionist's position. When you read Catholid IDers such as Behe or Giuseppe Sermonti you see them petition their church to reject Darwinism. So they hold to ID despite the teachings of their church.

      Protestant, or at least evangelical theology is very uncomfortable with most of ID, as it requires a literal Adam and Eve. Once you have rejected a literal Adam and Eve, as I have had to tentatively do, you see no significant theological difference between the theistic evolutionist position and the ID position. It is when theology is thus removed that an honest analysis of the evidence is possible. When theology is removed, the conclusion of ID becomes the much more reasonable conclusion.

      CH's position, which I wholeheartedly support, is that Darwinism is a religious commitment. I know many with a religious commitment that see proof all around that the world is less than 7000 years old. By the same token, the religious commitment to philosophical naturalism, can-be-no-god-ism leads to a pathological commitment to neo-Darwinsim. neo-Darwinism is true because the other option is anathema.

      Now, is "the designer" God? Good question. The data is clear that the singular is correct. To the extent that UCD is correct, there is only one designer (or a group acting in a tightly unified way.) There is no other way for all life to have spawned from one original ancestor.

      Must that "designer" be God? Well, if earthly biology is all we have to go on, the designer could well be an alien. However, the case for cosmological design, and for the big bang, is rather strong. If one big bang then the big bang was initiated by either one or none (how so stretches the minds of the anti-theists.) That "one" must, of necessity, be outside of our universe. As such that "one" must be reasonably described as supernatural.

      Is the "one", well, God? The "one" does not by any means comfortably fit the God of the Bible as understood by the Bible-literalists. It is clear that from the beginning of life there was death. From the beginning of life there was struggle. Humanity existed for far longer than a literal interpretation of the Genesis account allows.

      Ultimately, therefore, ID is not a nice cushy easy answer to any christian's theology. I contend, therefore, that those of us who hold the ID position do so with less theological drive than those who hold any other position of biological origins.

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    5. JD:

      CH on this site won't even acknowledge what he thinks or doesn't think about ID - he won't even answer the question.

      No, actually I’m not the one avoiding questions here. As I’ve discussed many times, I’m a Christian. I believe God created the world. As for how, Scripture suggests both miraculous and naturalistic mechanisms but overall doesn’t give a lot of detail. So the mechanical questions are tricky and I don’t think Scripture is determinative. Of course the science is unambiguous. As for ID, do I really need to explain that the DNA code appears to be designed?

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    6. "As for how, Scripture suggests both miraculous and naturalistic mechanisms but overall doesn’t give a lot of detail."

      I would disagree. The Bible has quite a lot of detail about how the Universe/World was created, but the trouble is it's rather hard to reconcile with what we now about how the natural world operates and current observations.

      Why is that? I've seen many convoluted explanations but to me I find them just as incredulous as you do that the natural world was not designed. And why is that only now after 3000 years of having Scripture that we are apparently finding out how God did things is really quite different from Biblical creation accounts?

      Of course the obvious answer is simply that Scripture is wrong. The more parsimonious explanation is that the creation story in Genesis is not divine at all, but just another example of many hundreds of creation stories from early peoples. But of course for many that is not even an option to be considered, particularly because of the psychological and spiritual implications it brings.

      The problem is where is we stay Scripture is non-determinant, allegorical, metaphorical or whatever, then we can make it sing anyway we like. And given the 30,000 Christian cults and sects that exist or have existed, that's exactly what people have done.

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    7. However, JDRick, you avoided my contention that anti-theists have a theological commitment that disallows them from honestly viewing the ID perspective.

      Theists, on the other hand, are forced into freedom by the fact that the data does not fit well with the simple reading of their text. As we are forced to abandon a simple reading, and are placed in a position of "we can make it sing anyway we like" allows us to eliminate the pull of theology when analyzing the data.

      To paraphrase from CH: Religion, an anti-theistic commitment, drives science -- and it matters.

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    8. blast,
      CH's position, which I wholeheartedly support, is that Darwinism is a religious commitment.


      Actually CH' s position is all knowledge requires a metaphysical commitment.

      I see this equation in your writing: belief in God produces ID. I do not see this equation. I see the opposite equation only -- commitment in opposition to God = rejection of ID.

      So theists that reject ID are committed to opposition to God?

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    9. bfast,
      my contention that anti-theists have a theological commitment that disallows them from honestly viewing the ID perspective.


      Of course,that is your theological position. Unless you are admitting that ultimately the designer is a particular version of God .

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    10. V:

      Actually CH' s position is all knowledge requires a metaphysical commitment.

      Well I think there is a difference between (i) assuming parsimony and uniformity and (ii) assuming a Creator wouldn't create the mosquito. Not all metaphysical commitments are equal.

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    11. CH:
      Not all metaphysical commitments are equal.


      Exactly, all religions have a metaphysical commitment but not all metaphysical commitments are religion.

      Well I think there is a difference between (i) assuming parsimony and uniformity

      Scientific methodology in other words

      (ii) assuming a Creator wouldn't create the mosquito.

      That is actually two things:
      (ii) a. the assumption causes outside of nature contradicts (i) hence no assumption of what a Creator would do is unnecessary.

      (ii) b. proposed specific characteristics of an agent's nature allows comparative evaluation to observed facts, this can include fictional and non fictional.
      For instance is Ethan Edwards justified in his actions?

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    12. Sorry

      "...what a Creator do is necessary. "

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    13. velikovskys: I see this equation in your writing: belief in God produces ID. I do not see this equation. I see the opposite equation only -- commitment in opposition to God = rejection of ID.

      So theists that reject ID are committed to opposition to God?

      Absolutely not! If you read my posts you will see that I am as theologically comfortable with theistic evolution as I am with ID.

      Theist = broad flexibility in this topic.
      anti-theist = Rejects ID out of hand for fear that the designer might be the dreaded g word.

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    14. velikovskys: "all religions have a metaphysical commitment but not all metaphysical commitments are religion."

      Please define religion in a way that differentiates it from the atheistic/anti-theistic metaphysical commitment.

      My dictionary says: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.
      As such, atheism seems to apply.

      Independant of the symantics, however, atheists/anti-theists have a metaphysical commitment. This metaphysical commitment causes them to reject the ID hypothesis out of hand. The data is not considered, the idea is rejected on philosophical grounds alone.

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    15. bfast:
      Absolutely not! If you read my posts you will see that I am as theologically comfortable with theistic evolution as I am with ID.


      I understood your point,I just thought your argument was weak.

      Since theists can reject ID for reasons other than the opposition to God, logically non theists can reject ID for the same reasons, therefore your argument that the rejection of ID for non theist's equals opposition to God fails

      My dictionary says: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.
      As such, atheism seems to apply.


      I was referring to the metaphysical assumptions of science not atheism.

      Independant of the symantics, however, atheists/anti-theists have a metaphysical commitment

      Speaking of semantics , anti- theists? You realize that since theism does not believe in one version of God that anti-theists include,theists,pantheists,deists,agnostics and atheists. I would guess that you are anti-theist when it come to the God of ISIS.

      atheists(anti-theists)have a metaphysical commitment. This metaphysical commitment causes them to reject the ID hypothesis out of hand.

      Since atheism has no central dogma or belief system, to assume that the absence of a metaphysical commitment is a metaphysical commitment is nonsensical. Not A is equal to A.

      If theists can reject ID on scientific grounds, atheists can as well, after all the designer is unknown,correct?

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    16. velikovskys: If theists can reject ID on scientific grounds, atheists can as well, after all the designer is unknown,correct?

      Wrong question. Atheists can reject ID all day! Atheists have a very hard time accepting ID and staying atheists however. While the "non-divine designer" hypothesis is possible, the debate from the "new atheists" is, almost surely rightly, designer = god.

      Invariably ID gets rejected by atheists before evidence is even considered. It is rejected on metaphysical principle.

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  11. JDRick

    We humans learn about nature by logically thinking about it or by experimenting to conclude some things are possible and some are not. We rely on our and other people's experiences - the massive database of knowledge built by past and present scientists and philosophers.

    In my case, I simply know that machines, including nano machines cannot evolve. They have to be intelligently organized into logical interdependent system of cooperating components. They normally perform specific action/work by controlling the appropriate energy flow. Basically, even if I don't know how machine was built or by whom, I can recognize what it is, it's purpose and how it works.

    John D. Norton writes in Causation as Folk Science; page 16:

    "Using human action as a prototype, we identify
    terms in the cause and effect relation whenever we have one
    that brings about or produces the other; and we identify the process
    of production as the causal process."

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  12. bFast: "However, JDRick, you avoided my contention that anti-theists have a theological commitment that disallows them from honestly viewing the ID perspective."

    I am happy to viewing the ID perspective. My issue is that IDers will not readily the religious underpinnings of ID and will not entertain certain questions. ID has strong religious (Christian) influences, let's not ignore them. When CH says that science is driven by religion, I think he is unable to acknowledge his own biases that his faith brings to the table, which undoubtedly influence his views.

    "Rejects ID out of hand for fear that the designer might be the dreaded g word."

    Again, not afraid that the designer might be the "G" word, just would like to have a more open discussion that this is a hypothesis - and what that entails. For example, why is it that ID is not reconcilable with the Bible. I think that would be a great and useful discussion to have. But I don't think anybody wants to go there.

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    1. JD:

      So, do you think that the view that the DNA code is evidence of design, must be "driven by religion"?

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    2. I don't know, but it seems rather a coincidence that ID has clear origins in the Christian Creationist movement and that probably some 95%+ adherents are people of faith who believe the design is God. What is ironic to me is if anything ID, if true, seems to point away from the Christian God not towards it. Again, how do you reconcile the idea of ID with the Bible? Any thoughts?

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    3. JDRick, "how do you reconcile the idea of ID with the Bible? Any thoughts?"

      Certainly there are challenges reconciling ID with the Bible. However, the Catholic church has officially done so. Many protestants, especially the Biblical literalists have simply accepted the Bible as accurate, and decided that the earth was created in 6 days, less than 7,000 years ago.

      However, you have avoided my charge above. I contend that the fact that ID isn't a nice fit, but that ID is no nicer fit than theistic evolution leaves the Christian in a place where we can be honest with the data. The people who are metaphysically incapable of honestly analyzing the data are the athiests/anti-theists. The best argument against ID is that it is philosophically unacceptable.

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    5. I am not opposed to ID at all. I'm not a scientist but I don't think I have to be to realize that really the major argument for ID is pointing out inadequacies against evolution (sure, there are others such as specified complexity, IR but neither seem particularly fleshed out yet as workable hypotheses etc). Which I find hugely ironic because people like CH like to complain that evolution is really just a theory based on what God would or would not do (which I don't think it is). I just don't think there's very much there yet. On the one hand ID seems desperate to be accepted as main stream science, yet I think it seems more occupied with dismissing evolution than providing a positive hypothesis of its own. And why does it have to be choice between evolution and ID? What about some other natural process that we have yet to understand? Why does ID automatically win because evolution fails?

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    6. JD:

      CH: So, do you think that the view that the DNA code is evidence of design, must be "driven by religion"?

      JD: I don't know


      So why do you think my views on evolution are religiously biased?


      people like CH like to complain that evolution is really just a theory based on what God would or would not do (which I don't think it is).

      So then, why do you think evolutionists make religious claims in their arguments proving evolution?

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    7. JDRick, "really the major argument for ID is pointing out inadequacies against evolution"

      Yes, IDers spend most of their energy pointing out inadequacies in neo-Darwinian evolution. If neo-Darwinian evolution is adequate, than the ID hypothesis is irrelevant, unnecessary.

      However, despite all of the pointing out of glaring inadequacies of neo-Darwinian evolution, the scientific world, for the most part, clings to it. The theory is stupid. The theory doesn't fit the data very well at all. But it is clung to on philosophical/ metaphysical/religious grounds -- not on the evidence.

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    8. Well a vast number of scientists do actually think evolution is more than adequate. I don't know the numbers but I'm sure it is well into the 90% range. Not that consensus necessarily means anything. I suppose one could believe that all of these scientists are deluded and are clinging to a metaphysical position. Perhaps?

      But for me my main objection is that for me to consider ID it isn't just about accepting it as an alternative scientific hypothesis. It is so much more than that - by considering ID one automatically has to be open to the idea of a Designer. There is no Intelligent Design without an Intelligent Designer. So as much as the "rules" of ID seem to want to avoid this conversation, it is quite natural to wonder who? Of course most of the people here think it is the Christian God. But as an atheist I naturally do see no evidence at all for a Christian God (or any others for that matter). In fact I personally am quite convinced that the hypothesis of ID quite flatly contradicts Christianity and scripture. So where does that leave us? Really the only other viable alternative then is some of form of extraterrestrial lifeforms. Now we butt against the laws of physics and the remote possibility that an alien form has the technology to have visited us 3 billion years ago (and hasn't bothered to stay in touch since...).

      So in the end it isn't about clinging to some metaphysical position (and no I am not angry at God...) it's just looking at the alternatives and concluding that a natural non-divine, non-alien explanation is still probably the best one.

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    9. JDRick, "It is so much more than that - by considering ID one automatically has to be open to the idea of a Designer."

      That is my point exactly! You reject the evidence because you don't like the metaphysical consequences. You then blither on about how your position is not metaphysical.

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    11. It's nothing to do with "liking" the metaphysical consequences, it's about whether there is any evidence. Again why are you so sure that ID points to YOUR god and not somebody else's particularly when ID seems to contradict your scripture? Maybe the ID designer is a Hindi God?

      Of course as an atheist, I do not have any beliefs in gods. Yet ID is asking me to essentially take on that belief - but without providing a scrap of evidence for a designer, let alone when this happened or what methods were used. Really I don't care one bit if you call this position metaphysical or not. Are you going to tell me you don't have a metaphysical position either? Of course you do and so does CH - he admitted it in a post above (and he may claim otherwise, but of course his beliefs influence his worldview, including science).

      At the end of the day it's still about evidence. Of course there are others who have examined ID from an open-minded scientific perspective and find it extremely wanting. Perhaps if the scientific evidence provided by ID passed muster it might be one thing, but so far it hasn't.

      I think if ID is an intended to be some kind of evangelical program to reach out to the unsaved, I'm not sure it has a lot going for it.

      Show me evidence that designers (other than humans) exist or have existed and have directed natural processes then perhaps I might be more open-minded. But again according to ID we're not "allowed" to ask those kinds of questions. ID is ultimately making some rather extraordinary claims, so extraordinary evidence is required.

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    12. JDRick, you said: "It is so much more than that - by considering ID one automatically has to be open to the idea of a Designer."

      Then you said, "It's nothing to do with "liking" the metaphysical consequences, it's about whether there is any evidence."

      These two positions do not compute! I am ID on the evidence even though ID is metaphysically uncomfortable for me. Theistic evolution is every bit as theologically comfortable for me as ID is, but I reject it on evidentiary grounds.

      You keep saying that you care about the evidence, but then demand that ID be reconciled with the Bible. This is non-sequitur.

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    13. Why are you metaphysically uncomfortable with the idea?

      I am sorry if my ideas don't compute to you - may be I"m not sure the correct metaphysical semantics or whatnot.

      You see my issue with ID is that it really is not just a pure scientific proposition but one with heavy metaphysical - Christian - baggage. I don't think there is much doubt that ID has come from the Christian creation movement. It wasn't born as an idea in the labs of MIT or Calpoly.

      So to me accepting the evidence for ID (which I don't anywhere because I've read enough to read that it really isn't good science), is also accepting a metaphysical idea of a Designer. The two are inescapably linked no matter how many in the ID try and separate them. And since nobody is really seriously positing the idea of an extraterrestial source, we are left with a supernatural one - for which I see zero evidence for.

      So let me ask you - I assume you are a Christian, right? Don't you therefore think it important that ID and the idea of a Designer reconcile with Scripture and the story of Creation? I think it's anything but a non-sequitur.

      I guess I have to say I'm just honesty plain skeptical of the motives of the ID movement....there's much talk of the accepting ID as science, but when the origins of ID can be clearly traced to creationism ("cdesign proponentsists") and probably 99% of ID supporters are born-again Christians there is cause to be skeptical. I guess I puzzled why Christians would be that bothered about it....I think if they want to convert people to Christianity there are probably much more effective methods.

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    14. JDRick: You see my issue with ID is that it really is not just a pure scientific proposition but one with heavy metaphysical - Christian - baggage.

      You see my issue with neo-Darwinism is that it really is not just a pure scientific proposition, but one with heavy metaphysical - atheistic - baggage.

      While it is true that some neo-Darwinists are not atheists. Atheists like you can't look past the metaphysics at the scientific evidence against their pet theory, or for the predominant alternative. The evidence presented by the ID movement, though it is very strong, is dismissed on metaphysical grounds alone.

      As for the Christians who hold to neo-Darwinism, well, many are poorly informed. The others, in my opinion, are people pleasers who don't want to be rejected by their peers.

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    15. CH: "Why are you an atheist"

      Let me answer by asking you a question which will more than adequately answer yours:

      Why are you not a Scientologist, a Jehovah's Witnesse, a Raelian , a Muslim, a Mormon, a Hindi, a Taoist, a Spiritualist, a Shintoist, a Rastafarian, a Rosicrucian, a Sikh, or a Pagan?

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    16. bFast: "You see my issue with neo-Darwinism is that it really is not just a pure scientific proposition, but one with heavy metaphysical - atheistic - baggage."

      If one is describing evolution as a set of inter-related disciplines (geology, bio-geographical distribution, genetics, fossil records etc) where is the metaphysical baggage with that? I think you're really referring to the fact that you don't agree with the theorizing and conclusions because they exclude divine intervention. I get that. But nevertheless evolution can do something that ID just cannot do - it can make observations about the world and interpret them through a working theory and framework and make hypotheses. ID does not yet have the ability to do it - it's mostly critiquing evolution's interpretation. Take the OP here - what does ID have to say about this? Does it illuminate or help us understand the world any better?

      Nobody has yet answered my question....how does ID align with the creation story in the Bible? If you are a Christian and believe the Bible is the Word of God and ID is true, how do you reconcile them? Surely people here must think about these things, right?

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    17. If one is describing evolution as a set of inter-related disciplines (geology, bio-geographical distribution, genetics, fossil records etc) where is the metaphysical baggage with that?

      Lets see, I have a brother who is a geologist. He has discussed the "fossil record" with me from a geologist's perspective. (I know, its paleontologist that study the fossil record, but geologists find fossils for the paleontologists.) He says that new animal forms "suddenly appear" in the fossil record. This has produced Gould's "punctuated equilibrium" theory. "Punctuated equilibrium" is an uncomfortable fit with neo-Darwinism. Some insane solution to the conundrum has been found. Don't notice that the solution involves inbreeding -- a wonderful system for producing diseased and useless offspring.

      The fossil record, in careful detail, doesn't really help neo-Darwinism at all.

      Genetics, well, a#1 there seems to be enormous amount of frustration trying to assemble a "tree of life" from genetic molecular clocks. Every gene seems to produce a different tree. 2B, many species have unique genes. (Please understand that a gene is equivalent to a carefully composed paragraph -- a paragraph that defines the structural details of a new, working, molecular machine.) These orphan genes fit the theory like a glove -- a glove being placed on a foot. Thirdly as time goes by the recognized complexity of living cells keeps increasing. The complexity of the simplest known life form is vastjy beyond what you understand.

      "evolution can do something that ID just cannot do - it can make observations about the world and interpret them through a working theory and framework and make hypotheses."

      NDE makes hypotheses alright. Follow this blog to see how often these hypotheses are proved false. Show me one, other than that life has been around for a very long time, that has proved true.

      ID has also generated hypotheses. Two of the greatest are: junk dna? Not so much. The evidence, the amount of dna seen as "not junk" has about doubled in the last 20 years. Second: Its more complex. Yup, every time we turn around we find that its more complex.

      Watch the debate by evolutionists like Dawkins, Ruse and Myers. They challenge ID on metaphysical grounds, not on the data. The data does not scream neo-Darwinism!

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    18. JD:

      Let me answer by asking you a question which will more than adequately answer yours:

      I don't follow. How does your question answer my question to you?

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    19. Perhaps you should try answering my question and you'll figure it out.

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    20. to bFast: Again? How do you reconcile ID with the creation story in the Bible.

      Why can't anybody answer this? Does nobody else think it is isn't an important question. I do.

      As to ID hypothesis, I think the jury is still out on Junk DNA (haven't really followed it that much, but I know there is a lot of disagreement about the ENCODE study). As to the other hypothesis, "it has become more complex" What's more complex? How do you measure that?

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    21. to bFast: Again? How do you reconcile ID with the creation story in the Bible.

      I see three ways to reconcile these two naratives:
      1 - The creation story of the Bible is a story made up by man -- the oral history of the the Jewish people. It is not particularly divinely inspired.
      2 - The creation story is a figment of God's imagination. It is not "history" but a story that God made up to help us understand the human condition.
      3 - I don't. This is my favorite view. This is the "cognitive dissonance" perspective.

      On junk DNA, 20 years ago it was assumed that about 2% of human DNA had function. Encode now suggests the number is 80%. You are right that the Encode value is being questioned, however the new "minimum" value is seen to be 8%. This minimum value translates to a four fold increase in the recognized active DNA. That's a lot!

      "it has become more complex" What's more complex?

      Originally there was a nice little algorithm that was thought to explain DNA. 1 gene, 1 protein. At some point it became clear that there are about a dozen mechanisms that make this algorithm inaccurate. The state of protein A will cause protein B to fold differently, therefore be functionally different, for instance. Dr. Gould, one of the few honest Darwinists, said that if this happened too much he would have to abandon the theory.

      Well, at this point there are presumed to be about 20,000 protein coding genes in the human genome, but well over 100,000 protein variants. That means the 1 to 1 ratio is now more like 1 to 5.

      Please understand just how challenging this is to the theory. If a gene codes for a protein, then a point mutation being beneficial is conceivable. But if a gene codes for 5 protein variants, then every point mutation must benefit at least one of those variants, without degrading any of the others. This is quite a feat! This is what I mean by more complex.

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    22. CH:
      So then, why do you think evolutionists make religious claims in their arguments proving evolution?


      For some theistic evolutionists, it is an answer to to religious argument that science is incompatible with the concept of God. I believe that is the point that Jdrick is making, that which version of God one chooses is a subjective choice.

      A second version is a secular argument that in the only known instance of intelligent design , design is contingent on the designer's motives ,knowledge, abilities, and limitations.

      The argument then extrapolates what might deduce about a theoretical intelligent designer of life. Eugen uses this argument thus:
      1 life has designs which resemble machines
      2 intelligence is required to create machine like things
      3 therefore an attribute of the source of the design of life is intelligence

      Rinse and repeat

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    23. bfast

      I see three ways to reconcile these two naratives:
      1 - The creation story of the Bible is a story made up by man -- the oral history of the the Jewish people. It is not particularly divinely inspired.
      2 - The creation story is a figment of God's imagination. It is not "history" but a story that God made up to help us understand the human condition.
      3 - I don't. This is my favorite view. This is the "cognitive dissonance" perspective.

      Interesting. Naturally I am going to favor option 1. After all, the creation story in the Bible has many similarities to other creation myths (which seem remarkably common in many cultures). Besides, we don't even know who the author of Genesis is. Should we really build a life-changing philosophy on a book of unknown authorship and one that is really likely myth?

      As 2..well that is certainly creative. But when do the stories stop and real history begins? After all isn't it important for Christians to believe that the Bible are largely real historical events? At what point do the allegories in Genesis stop and "real" history begins (before the flood, after the flood?)

      As to 3...well if you have cognitive dissonance that is usually a sign that something with your believe system is wrong. It's one thing to say I don't know...but when you have two opposing beliefs, then the chances are high that one of them is probably wrong.

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    24. "when you have two opposing beliefs, then the chances are high that one of them is probably wrong."
      Yup. Most certainly one is wrong, probably both are.

      When I was young I used to know. The older I get, the less certain I become of every piece of "knowledge".

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    25. bFast: "When I was young I used to know. The older I get, the less certain I become of every piece of "knowledge".

      Does that include your faith? Does this mean you are willing to concede the Bible may actually be wrong on many things?

      I don't disagree with you - as I age too I am comfortable with not only not be certain, but of even having answers. I think if ID was to be true the irony to me is that it seems to point away from Christianity. If anything it aligns better with something like Deism or even Buddhism.

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    26. JDRick, is there any other way of knowing besides, well, science?

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    27. "JDRick, is there any other way of knowing besides, well, science?"

      Well, I have to say I think I'm skeptical about the idea. Let's take an example. The world has some 7 billion people and a large portion of these have differing religious beliefs. Not just different spiritual perspectives, but actual beliefs about what happened or didn't happened in history. And these same believers are quite convinced by the veracity of their believes. They'll say things like "I know that I know that it is true".

      Of course the reality is that at least good chunk of these people are wrong. Completely wrong in fact, despite their absolute convictions and certainty.

      And these kind of behavior isn't just limited to religion, we see it everywhere - sports, politics, economics.

      It appears then that the brain is very, very good at deluding us. It's very good at latching onto something and convincing us that it is the truth. Psychologists have of course studied this and confirmed that our brains are more than capable of creating powerful illusions.

      So when you talk about "other ways of knowing" I would have to take this into account. Presumably our definition of "knowing" here is more than some subjective truth that is only known to me, but tangible truths about the Universe. So yes, I'd probably say given that it seems we live in a non-supernatural universe, then I would stick with a non-supernatural way of knowing about it - and that is currently best represented (imperfectly or otherwise ) by science.

      Or maybe you can tell me about a reliable foolproof of other ways of knowing that would not be some delusion of my brain?

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    28. "And these kind of behavior isn't just limited to religion, we see it everywhere - sports, politics, economics."
      Science.

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    29. bFast: "Science"

      Sure, science can and does get corrupted too. But's hard to deny that an endeavor it's been rather successful. In fact we can say that the knowledge gained through science is why many (at least in the West) have a longer life span than 100 years, and enjoy all kinds of conveniences and benefits from technology.

      But in terms of "other ways of knowledge", how can I distinguish between, say, an enneagram, the voice of the holy spirit, a sufi trance, and a spirit talking through a medium. Which of these kinds of knowledge are reliable? Or are they all delusions of our brains?

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    30. JDrick:

      How do you know if something os right or wrong? How do you know good and eveil even exist? And science is good at making things, true. But it hasn't come up with any real ggdo answers to the bigf questions about origins. And it doesn't seem to provide a very good guide to lving a good life.

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    32. Natschuster: "How do you know if something os right or wrong? How do you know good and eveil even exist? And science is good at making things, true. But it hasn't come up with any real ggdo answers to the bigf questions about origins. And it doesn't seem to provide a very good guide to lving a good life."

      Good questions. Many people have wrote volumes on how to discern good from evil. Of course theists say that non-theists have no basis for this. But I think there are viable non-supernatural explanations for morality etc. Why is it that both non-theist individuals and societies do in fact have well developed ethical systems? Why is God the only answer to this question?

      Right, science has yet to come up with definitive answers about origins. So what do we do, just give up and say that what is depicted in Genesis is our best answer? Certainly in cosmology there's been amazing progress in understanding the age/size of the Universe - none of which by the way we got from the Bible (which as it turns out has quite a different take on things...)

      As to a guide living a good life - I think the secret to that is finding meaning...even if it appears that the Universe is ultimately a cold and meaningless place. Some people seem to need to do this with the help of a holy book (which really are all man made anyway). But others find meaning in art, music, literature, or just helping others...all with any references to supernatural beings.

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    33. The reason non-theistic societies can have moral systems is because God created everyone with a moral sense. Ther doesn't seem to be any other good explanation for the existance of morality.

      Actually cosmology does clsoely parallel Genesis. There was a creation event, then there was light in both systems. Life came later via a special creation on both systems. Humans came later still, by another special creation event. The biggest problem with science verses Genesis appears to be the age thing. There are number intersting apporaches.

      And lots of really bad people foind meaning in their lives. Hitkler found meanign by gassing people. We need more than just meaning. Anyway, why do humans need meaning? Monkeys don't seem to need meaning. They juist need to eat and reporduce. Why are hunmasn different?

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    34. Natschuster: "Actually cosmology does clsoely parallel Genesis. "

      Sure it does. As you say, just a little issue with timescales that's all - 7 days vs 13 billion years! Of course if you start with a position of faith to start with, then of course you are going to interpret your holy book to exactly align with that faith. To an "outsider" though Genesis looks exactly like what it really is - an anonymous creation myth (one of very many) from ancient times. Of course I'm sure you have no trouble dismissing creation myths from other religions or cultures, but yours of course is different.

      I think you mean by "interesting approaches" what others would call rationalizations. Humans are very good at this!

      Obviously there are many good biologically-based explanations for morality, but of course they would undermine your faith.

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    35. Actuallu Genesi is a littel difernt that other myths. Other myuthas startt witha universe, Then the gods comer out of that ocean or mist or something. Genesis starts with God creating the Universe.

      And Genesis is part of a biiger book called the Torah. Torah means law in Hebrew. It was intended as a guide for living a good life, not a science text. So it isn't all that suprising that the author of Genesis didn't bother going into all the details of creation to make sure they are 100% accurate and clear. Lots of metaphiors, analogies etc. For example. days in the Bible often means extended time periods, not just a 24 hour period. That's just one apporach, there are others. Or maybe the Bilbe is accurate and the science is off. Lots of possibilities.

      And if all you have is biology, then humans are just jumped up monkeys. There is no basis for saying we have anything that a monkey doesn't. Monkeys don't have morality, just instinct. So there is no basuis for saying humans have anyhting beyond instinct. If we do something good, instinct. If we do something bad, like kil and eat each other like chimps do, instinct.

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    36. JDRick, "given that it seems we live in a non-supernatural universe..." This is a your core premise. This also is the premise of "science". "Science" is really good at avoiding alternative evidence. I live in a very supernatural world. I see supernatural phenomenon all around me, interacting with me. And I know that you just shot me down in your mind for it.

      "Of course the reality is that at least good chunk of these people are wrong. Completely wrong in fact, despite their absolute convictions and certainty."

      From what I have seen, this statement is very much not correct. Every religion I have looked at brings something positive to the table. I know that's not a classically "Christian" perspective, but I am broader than that. I particularly like the wisdom that the eastern religions bring to the table. I believe that we are much more effective if we aren't so dismissive of other peoples' perspectives.

      Sure, science can and does get corrupted too. But's hard to deny that an endeavor it's been rather successful.

      Science also exercises very effective blinders. Science seeks out the kind of "facts" that it understands, and ignores the wisdom that it doesn't. Abandon "science only", and you will become a much broader, richer human.

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    37. Natschuster: Actually Genesis is a Little different..."

      It really isn't. Take a look at this: http://www.magictails.com/creationlinks.html

      And just randomly read some of the creation myths. Here's the beginning of Vodun one:

      "Damballah (Sky-serpent loa and wise and loving Father archetype) created all the waters of the earth.

      How about the Aztecs:

      "In the beginning nothing existed -- no earth, no sky, no sun, no moon, only darkness was everywhere. Suddenly from the darkness emerged a thin disc, one side yellow and the other side white, appearing suspended in midair. Within the disc sat a small bearded man, Creator, the One Who Lives Above. "

      I think you get the idea.

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    39. Natschuster: "Abandon "science only", and you will become a much broader, richer human."

      Well my life isn't just based on science - I love music (I play piano), and the arts, travel, friends, literature, gardening, wine, food, family, and my partner. It's very rich indeed and every day I am glad I am alive. I find meaning in all of these things, even if life is temporary.

      Sorry, but my experience of religious people is that rather than being richer or broader they become poorer and narrow-minded - and unfortunately too many are obsessed with what others do in the privacy of their bedrooms

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    40. Actuallu Genesi is a littel difernt that other myths.

      Thank you, natschuster, for equating genesis with other myths. Even a stopped clock is right twice each day.

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    41. "too many are obsessed with what others do in the privacy of their bedrooms"

      The real bone you have to pick with Christianity.

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    42. natschuster: The reason non-theistic societies can have moral systems is because God created everyone with a moral sense.

      Perhaps, but there is a great deal of variation in moral sensibilities.

      natschuster: Ther doesn't seem to be any other good explanation for the existance of morality.

      That is not correct. Theories of kin selection support the evolution of moral sensation.

      natschuster: Monkeys don't have morality, just instinct.

      Monkeys have been show to have a rudimentary moral sense.

      bFast: Science seeks out the kind of "facts" that it understands, and ignores the wisdom that it doesn't.

      Sure. Science is fundamentally limited, however, it is very adept at answering certain questions, such as the age of the Earth, or the common ancestry of life.

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    43. Zacriel;

      What wouldbe the eviolutionary explanation for the variaion in moral sensibilites? The theistic explanation is that God gave humans free will to choose to do the wrong thing, sometimes.

      How does kin selection explain how human scan do good things, icluding sacrificing theior live for people they aren't related to, or for an idea? And if morality evolved for a purpose how is it different than any other behavior? Its just instinct.

      And are people really sure that mmonkeys have a moral sense, and are not just following instinct? Do the monkeys say anything moral? And what is the evolutionary explanation for the monkeys moral sense anyway?

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    44. JDRicK:

      I'm happy that your lifer is so fulfilling, NOw i'm woderring why humans need things like music travel to be happy. How did it evolve?

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    45. natschuster: What wouldbe the eviolutionary explanation for the variaion in moral sensibilites?

      In traditional society, if you help someone you know, they are probably related to you. Those tribes that consist of members that help one another tend to out-compete those that don't. It isn't expected to lead to perfect outcomes, as cooperation is counterbalanced by cheaters.

      natschuster: And are people really sure that mmonkeys have a moral sense, and are not just following instinct?

      Morality is an instinct. When you feel sympathy for someone, it's not a rational process, but one that is due to an emotional attachment.

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    46. If emorality is just instinct, then so is immorality. So why is morality better than immorality. When chimps share meat, it is just instinct. When chimops eat each other, it is just instinct. So why is one better than the other?

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    47. natschuster: If emorality is just instinct, then so is immorality. So why is morality better than immorality.

      Sure, which is consistent with kin selection. There is an interplay between the value of cooperation, cheating, and mechanisms to detect cheating and enforce cooperation.

      natschuster: When chimps share meat, it is just instinct. When chimops eat each other, it is just instinct.

      When humans share meat, it is instinct. When humans eat each other, it is instinct.

      natschuster: So why is one better than the other?

      Depends what you mean by better. Humans engage in both behaviors.

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  13. JD the reconciliation of the Bible and science isn't terribly difficult. Take some time and look into some of the Jewish thought that precedes this debate by 800+ years. Admittedly these weren't the popular views at the time, none the less they beat science to the punch on a number of things. We as Christians have a dogmatic interpretation of the Bible we don't want to let go of. The Bible itself evolves if you ask me.

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    Replies
    1. If it isn't difficult can somebody reconcile ID with the creation story then? Nobody else around here seems interested in doing it.

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    2. JD said:
      "When CH says that science is driven by religion, I think he is unable to acknowledge his own biases that his faith brings to the table, which undoubtedly influence his views. "

      I fully agree with you. We all hope to be unbiased in our approach to the facts/observations etc., but all information must be interpreted. It must be organized and put into some kind of framework to make sense of it. This means we all have a bias, IDers, creationists, and evolutionists committed to naturalism. We cannot prove our metaphysical assumptions. We just accept them and fit the data into the framework we each possess.

      Quote from a creationist book:
      "Facts are like rocks. They don't talk; they must be interpreted by one's assumptions. When I was in graduate school, the professors frequently admitted, "There is no such thing as a value free fact," especially when it comes to unobserved history. Facts must be interpreted: they must be placed in an existing worldview before they have much meaning at all. .... Raw facts or data relating to the unobserved past can usually be interpreted in more than one way, within more than one world view, although both interpretations cannot be true."

      The recent post on Uncommon Descent about human exceptionalism.

      The facts are that Neanderthals seem to have done a lot of things that previously we Thot only humans could do. That's the fact.

      How do we interpret that?

      The article seemed to take the position of assuming Neanderthals are not human and therefore the author attacked the idea of human exceptionalism.

      But that same fact removed from the evolutionary paradigm and placed in a creationist world view would be seen as evidence FOR human exceptionalism and for the idea that Neanderthals were actually humans!

      The facts don't talk. They have to be interpreted so yes, even CH suffers from this problem. He fits the facts into his ID view of things. You fit it into yours and I fit it into mine.

      Who is right? We can't prove that anyone is, but which worldview does the evidence best fit into?

      I guess we all think they fit best into our own worldview.

      The fact mentioned in this article about the amazing ability of this organism fits best in a creationist or ID worldview in my opinion.

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    3. T: "The fact mentioned in this article about the amazing ability of this organism fits best in a creationist or ID worldview in my opinion."

      So if you like you could say the facts in this article suggest a hypothesis then, right? A hypothesis that suggest either an explanatory framework of creationism or ID. But of course it's one fact (and we'll not worry that other scientists will have no trouble fitting this into their paradigm).

      For me for this to have legs, I would have to say - well, if this ID idea is correct, we should be able to find other confirming data. Or should be able to find data that disconfirms the idea? Foremost in my search would be to discover if there is such a thing as a non-human designer who is responsible for such actions. And in my mind this is where we start to run into big trouble - because the evidence for this is really not there. Sure we can look at religious deities or perhaps consider alien invasions and the like, but none of them hold up (I especially think the Christian God is more than a poor fit). That leaves us thinking that if we don't find other confirming data to fit our explanatory framework, then perhaps our framework is wrong to start with. That's kind of how I view ID...I know the "rules" of ID say we mustn't consider the identify of the Designer, but I think it's a paramount question and must be considered in any serious discussion of ID.

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    4. ID is evidenced in biology, physics, chemistry and cosmology (for starters). And unlike evolutionism ID makes scientifically testable claims. IDists have said exactly what would dis-confirm/ falsify the design inference.

      ID is about the design, not the designer. Once we detect design we know there had to be a designer.

      The reason why ID is not about the designer is because it is obvious that we do not need to know the designer before we can detect design. It is also obvious that in the absence of direct observation or designer input the only possible way to make a scientific determination as to the designer(s) is by studying the design and all relevant evidence.

      This is why ID is not a dead-end as it opens up new questions that people will attempt to answer when they have the resources to do so.

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    5. Joe G: The reason why ID is not about the designer is because it is obvious that we do not need to know the designer before we can detect design.

      Perhaps. But given you have tentatively detected "design", then that logically implies a designer, with all that entails in terms of evidence.

      Joe G: This is why ID is not a dead-end as it opens up new questions that people will attempt to answer when they have the resources to do so.

      So what have you determined about the designer so far? What specific resources do you need in order to test your designer hypothesis? A magnifying glass? A notepad? A cyclotron?

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    6. Joe G: "ID is about the design, not the designer. Once we detect design we know there had to be a designer.

      The reason why ID is not about the designer is because it is obvious that we do not need to know the designer before we can detect design."

      Why? Is this a rule that we musn't discuss the identify of the Designer? Says who? Is it really because 90%+ adherents to ID already have 100% certainty of who the Designer is but because that is a faith-based positioned don't want it discussed?

      Imagine going on an archelogical dig and finding artifacts but having absolutely no curiosity or interest who designed them, how they were created or when they were designed. Sounds ridiculous? But that's exactly the state of ID.

      I think we can confidently say two things about the nature of the designer
      * Whoever/whatever the Designer is, it/he/she does appear to be interested in sharing their identity. Of course given the intelligence that this entity has to create/manipulate life, this would obviously be trivial to do, but they choose not to.
      * It really is hard to state categorically that the Designer is the Christian God, given that this God has already provided an account of creation that is only reconcilable with ID through some pretty extreme rationalizations. Maybe the Deist God instead?

      Joe G: "This is why ID is not a dead-end as it opens up new questions that people will attempt to answer when they have the resources to do so."

      I don't understand - when are people going to have the resources to answer these questions? What has to occur to make that happen?

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    7. JSDRicK:

      We can discuss the identity of the Designer iif we want to. The porblem is, that from biology alone, it is hard to determine the designer. We can speculate all we want.

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    8. natschuster: "We can discuss the identity of the Designer iif we want to. The porblem is, that from biology alone, it is hard to determine the designer. We can speculate all we want."

      Yes, let's discuss it. Why not and what's wrong with speculation. Science does it all the time, and doesn't ID want to be accepted as science? Surely knowing something about the design would be enormously helpful to the science of ID no?

      But it would seem that there is no way of knowing who the designer is other than through a faith-based position, correct? Except of course we can rule out religions that already have explanatory systems for creation since it's obvious ID doesn't fit these? (unless we consider God is either a liar or a cosmic trickster). So if that rules out most of the major religions, what's left? What do you think natschuster? Who's your odds-on favorite for the Big D and why?

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  14. I appreciate your post, Dr H..

    I picked up on this quote from the study you referenced:
    "Such complexity cannot have appeared fully formed, but arose by stepwise elaborations of cell structure (and genetic repertoire)."

    I have read with interest the questions JDRick has raised and bFast seems to have done a thorough job of answering him.

    But the quote I mentioned seems to me to go to the heart of the matter: when the author states unequivocally that the structure "..cannot have appeared fully formed..." he makes an unequivocal statement of faith.

    He makes it plain in the paragraphs you quoted that he does not know how the complexity came to be. Yet he is certain beyond all doubt that it did not appear fully formed.

    How can he "know" that? He cannot know that. Unequivocally. Can NOT. He wasn't there. No one was there. There are no fossils. There are no ancestors. There is no mathematical formula that can be deconstructed to show unequivocally how the complexity arose from some predecessor.

    His statement is a statement of FAITH. Pure. Simple. It's a FAITH he holds. The statement is part of a "belief system" which he subscribes. No proof. Just faith.

    Such a belief system is commonly defined as "religious". He shows his religion in that statement. Fine. It is religious. Does he admit it is religious? No.

    Take his religious statement of faith away and what do you have?

    I suggest that without the religious statement, the author has simply uncovered more evidence of complexity that can best be explained as a consequence of intentional and therefore intelligent design. He states that he recognizes:
    Three classes of motors..., nine classes of dynein, eleven classes of kinesin, and three classes of myosin. As well as these, the axoneme...., with 100–200 associated proteins.

    Without the religious statements of faith about their origins, the author has cataloged quite an array of complex machinery without which life does not exist. He admits perplexity... His faith doesn't really offer an explanation, only a whistling-in-the-dark "certainty" that they can't have gotten there by design.

    To answer one thing JDRick stated... It does not matter if 1% or 99% hold to the belief system of this author. Believing doesn't make it so.

    ID is not a belief system. ID says: "these structures appear to be designed, they bear the hallmarks of common structures that we KNOW are designed (such as nuts and bolts, bows and arrows, motors, software code). Without doubt, because their complexity is "specified" (i.e. performs specified functions) these structures are best explained as products of purposeful, intelligent design." That is ALL that ID says.

    If I have to have metaphysics--and it appears all humans have to have a metaphysics--I'd rather base my metaphysics on actual reality than on imagination e.g. "Such complexity cannot have appeared fully formed..." Bosh.

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  15. "Why are you not a Scientologist, a Jehovah's Witnesse, a Raelian , a Muslim, a Mormon, a Hindi, a Taoist, a Spiritualist, a Shintoist, a Rastafarian, a Rosicrucian, a Sikh, or a Pagan? "

    I smell Dawkinsism from JDRICK.

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  16. JDRich, ""Why are you not a Scientologist, a Jehovah's Witnesse, a Raelian , a Muslim, a Mormon, a Hindi, a Taoist, a Spiritualist, a Shintoist, a Rastafarian, a Rosicrucian, a Sikh, or a Pagan? ""

    Because there are other ways of gleaning knowledge than the scientific method.

    BTW, please cancel all non-monotheistic religions on scientific grounds. There was one big bang. If it was caused by any, it was caused by one -- or a group acting together as one.

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    Replies
    1. ... or an incredibly advanced super-civilization acting with unity of purpose.

      ... or a hive-mind like Star Trek's Borg Collective

      ... or a giant supercomputer

      The possibilities are endless, they all work and there s no way to tell them apart unless you are committed to finding evidence that would allow you to distinguish one from the other.

      So when it comes to choosing between competing explanations, how are those different ways of knowing working out for you?

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    2. ... or an incredibly advanced super-civilization acting with unity of purpose.

      ... or a hive-mind like Star Trek's Borg Collective

      ... or a giant supercomputer

      Each reasonably held under the umbrella of: or a group acting together as one.

      Delete
  17. Now all you have to do is find some evidence that points to one or the other like a Borg implant in Cambrian rock.

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    Replies
    1. We have animals and unguided evolution cannot account for them.

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  18. "I'm sure you have no trouble dismissing creation myths from other religions or cultures, but yours of course is different."

    JDRick, why not ask a Muslim who converted to Christianity or perhaps a Hindu who converted to Christianity? I'm sure they would have something to say. You may also want to ask converts living in rainforests around the globe why they converted. Many of those mentioned who do convert pay a heavy toll socially, if not with their life. Still, they seem to think it's worth the sacrifice.

    Why would someone make such a sacrifice? It may be something to think about.

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  19. Marcus: "Why would someone make such a sacrifice? It may be something to think about."

    I suspect they would probably say that they had an emotional or spiritual response and that's what persuaded them. I doubt very much if many studied the history or the provenance of the scriptures of their faith. From my experience most Christians that have an interest in such things do it after conversion.

    But I am not sure what point you are making. For example, people convert to Islam all the time too: http://www.why-christians-convert-to-islam.com/

    Given the number of people in the world and the number of religions, we can safely say that probably some several billion people have got it wrong. Yet they still believe and still make sacrifices for their faith. So sorry, I really don't think it's a particularly good argument.

    Just because people make sacrifices for their belief systems is not proof of the veracity of those beliefs. People seem very good at fastening on to beliefs and being utterly convicted by them even to the point of making sacrifices.

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  20. I don't know, but it seems rather a coincidence that ID has clear origins in the Christian Creationist movement

    So Aristotle was a Christian? Or perhaps JD is just ignorant...

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  21. 6 DAY CREATION by steve finnell


    It is not difficult to understand why secular humanists deny a six-day 24 hour creation period. They have to discredit God and the Biblical account of creation to make their position credible.


    What is perplexing, is the number of Christians and religious people who espouse the secular humanist influenced view that the earth was created over a span of millions or billions of years.


    Keep in mind that God created time. God was not nor is He bound by time!


    Did God create the heavens and the earth in a six day twenty- four hour time period?


    Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.


    Genesis 1: 3-5 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.


    THAT WAS ONE DAY, NOT MILLIONS OR BILLIONS OF DAYS.


    Genesis 1:16 God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night.....


    Would not the sun and moon cover a 24 hour period?


    Genesis 1:31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the six day.


    God saw that all He made was good. He created it all in six days, there was no evolution. It was very good after six days!


    Genesis 2:2 By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.


    Either trust God's word or the secular humanists. BLENDING GOD'S ACCOUNT AND HUMANIST'S VIEWS IS NOT AN OPTION!
    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete